I eat eggs, butter, cheese, chicken, steak, and fresh vegetables. I have no idea if any of these are processed. I can watch my meats being wrapped in the back room of the Amish store I shop. I can even go back , and take it as they wrap it. No carbon dioxide, or salt solutions in it. I like brown eggs. I know it is mental, but to me they taste better. I can also go to the farm, and see how the chickens, and cattle are raised, ask about feed etc. See the vegetables in the field, and ask if they use pesticides.
Still, I have no idea if any of these are processed. I know pepperoni, or sliced ham is processed, but skipping that food is pretty easy.
Fitness Minutes: (30,218)
4/21/12 11:02 A
There are a couple teams devoted to eating whole foods and eating clean. I would suggest going to one of those teams for information and ideas as well.
I don't entirely do this, I do as much as I can, but I'm not going to make my own tofu, tempeh, soy milk, seitan, bread or mayo, and sometimes given my physical limitations and life requirements I will eat vegan deli meats or store-bought lentil loaves.
I do try to find packaged foods where only foods are listed on the ingredients, where I actually recognize everything that's in there. But I don't eat much canned or boxed food.
It does take some thought and effort. Either you spend the weekend cooking for the week-month or cook every day, or some compromise in-between. Actually, it's easier as you label-read and decide exactly what's scary. (It's surprising what is mostly natural.)
I determined that I'm allergic (in the same sense of a red dye allergy affects behavior) to some preservative in some processed foods. I haven't tracked the exact cause because I'm a housewife foodie. Frozen burritos and other clearly-desperate meals are allowed, but that's only as an admission of hunger because my crusade is not perfect.
4/19/12 9:27 P
I eat nearly all unprocessed foods. The few processed foods I do consume are minimally processed (soy milk that contains only organic soybeans and water, mustard, vinegar, decaf coffee, that sort of thing). The majority of what I eat is produce. It has become a way of life for me.
I try the best I can to not eat processed foods. The only ones I do eat are chicken in a can which I rinse the salt off of before I use it and tuna fish. I feel so much better by doing this. It's also helped my hypoglycemia to be better.
4/19/12 6:50 P
I certainly don't have a completely unprocessed diet, but I will say that now when I read food labels, I don't make a beeline for the calories and throw it into my cart.
I've almost completely eliminated artificial sweeteners and now I can't stand the taste. I try to make the best choices when choosing my pantry items and rarely buy anything if it has an ingredient I can't pronounce. Through this process I've learned that I enjoy my food better if it's prepared with "real" food. I'd much rather use a little olive oil than a calorie-free chemical spray. And although it takes more time, I'd rather eat something I make than a lean cuisine. I've also realized that I lose weight at a slightly quicker rate when I'm eating less processed food. And I feel better! But like I said, I am certainly not perfect.
I think it would be hard to suddenly go cold turkey on processed foods, but there is no downside to making more conscious choices when you're at the store!
"Don't even staples like flour, baking soda, salt, etc. have additives to give them a longer shelf life?"
Actually, no! White flour has vitamins added back in, but no preservatives. Baking soda is just baking soda, and salt has iodine added, but both of those have an indefinite shelf life. As long as the container stays clean and dry, they will literally never go bad. (Salt IS a preservative-- that's how ham and jerky and pickles came about. Soak meat or vegetables in salt, and you kill the bacteria.) And one of the reasons that whole wheat flour is a little more expensive than white is that it actually has a short shelf life. It doesn't have preservatives, and it starts to go bad after a few months.
I don't make any effort to "eat clean" or anything like that. Artificial sweeteners are my friends. And yet, my diet is about 90% whole foods/unprocessed-- mainly because my budget is so limited. When you get down to the very, very basic, cheapest possible foods, it all gets healthier and "cleaner." You have to do a lot of the work yourself, but if you cook at home, you can live very well on vegetables, dried legumes, whole grain cereals and breads, meat that you find on sale, fruit, etc. Just as an example, oatmeal from the bulk bins can cost as little as 69 cents a pound, and it's all natural and unprocessed. (Unless you count flattening something as processing.)
Fitness Minutes: (4,362)
4/19/12 5:51 P
"What the dance studio did offer was a good suggestion that I should give my daughter some sort of “reward” if she does not eat any candy while back stage. We do already have a reward system in place where our girls earn pennies for listening and good behavior. They can then “buy” little toys and gadgets out of a treasure box with their pennies (which they love to do). So I told my daughter that she would earn 2 pennies for not eating any candy at the rehearsal and 2 more pennies for doing the same at the recital – 4 pennies is a lot around here! "
Fitness Minutes: (93,225)
11,121 4/19/12 5:33 P
Don't even staples like flour, baking soda, salt, etc. have additives to give them a longer shelf life?
What about stores like Trader Joe's that have TONS of frozen foods/pizzas/dinners, but do NOT use preservatives?
I'm just trying to decide exactly what would be considered processed, but I guess that could be a different defintion for different people.
Fitness Minutes: (97,762)
4/19/12 4:45 P
I avoid processed food for the most part and not only is it fairly easy to do, I enjoy my food more when it's closer to its natural state. By the way, I define "processed" as, basically "food with lots of additives to make it shelf-stable/to make it taste better when it's been sitting on a shelf for months"; obviously if you're cooking your food you're processing it in some way. I'd just rather have that happen in my kitchen than in a factory somewhere.
If you're interested in eliminating or cutting down on the highly-processed foods you may currently be eating, there are some good resources out there.
This woman decided that she and her family would eat only "real food" for 100 days. She blogged about their process and then continued writing about eating that way on a budget, dealing with social pressures to eat differently, etc.:
This man offers three helpful "eating rules" to get started, and the blog has recipes and advice:
I am wondering how hard it would be to have a completely unprocessed diet? Has anyone tried it? Not going vegan or anything like that, just nothing prepackaged. Thinking it would be a good way to "cleanse" my internal organs. Any ideas, pointers, suggestions, etc? Thanks in advance
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